George H. Cooper
The Destruction of the Athenian Army, together with that of Atlantis, as related by Plato, (Timaeus 25d) makes no sense if the whole story is allegedly offered as a morality tale, where the wicked and corrupt Atlanteans are destroyed because of their evil ways. Normally, such a story would show the allegedly morally superior Athenians prospering and triumphant over their opponents. The very fact that both military protagonists were destroyed, though not necessarily at the same time, would seem to be at odds with the idea of it being a morality tale and instead adds to the credibility of Plato’s narrative as containing some historical truth. Bernard Suzanne offers a totally different interpretation based on the background and motives of Critias(a). Serbian Atlantis sceptic, Slobodan Dušanic (1939-2012), has noted(b) that “while the Atlantis myth has been recognised, with good reason, by the majority of modern Platonists as a parable, no consensus has been reached on the parable’s character or precise purpose.” I’m not sure if this is a criticism of Plato or of modern scholarship!
Plato’s description of the demise of Atlantis and the obliteration of Athens has prompted many writers to link these occurrences with more global events. The association of Atlantis with catastrophism has persisted for over a century, ever since Ignatius Donnelly published his landmark book Atlantis and his contribution to catastrophist literature Raganorak. However, the idea of Atlantis as a victim of a global or at least a very widespread catastrophe was articulated as early as 1788 by Giovanni Rinaldo Carli who claimed that a close encounter with a comet caused worldwide devastation that included the permanent inundation of Atlantis.
In more recent times, commentators such as Stuart L. Harris have specified the cause of Atlantis’ destruction as an encounter with Nibiru (Marduk) in 9577 BC, in a number of papers (c)(d)(e) on the Academia.edu website. If the demise of the Athenian army was concurrent with that of the Atlanteans, 9577 BC is far too early, as Athens does not emerge as a structured society many thousands of years later. However, Harris’ early date is close to the that of the Younger Dryas and the extraterrestrial encounter that bombarded North America, which has been highlighted by Richard Firestone and others.
Atlantis is recorded by Plato as being destroyed in ‘a day and a night’, which led George H. Cooper to made the point that the knowledge of the speed of its demise could only have come from ‘survivors or passing mariners’ and should have been incorporated into the traditions of many nations[236.283].
*What is clear, is that Plato identifies an earthquake as the primary cause of Atlantis’ destruction. If that earthquake was triggered by a very close encounter with the likes of Carli’s comet, it would needed to have come near enough to the Earth and been so highly visible as to demand its inclusion in the destruction narrative!*
The bottom line is that the date of the destruction of Atlantis and its army is not known, although it has been assumed by commentators to have occurred shortly after the war with Atlantis. All that Plato says is that it happened “at a later time’ Similarly, However, Plato records the destruction of the two armies in the same passage (Tim.25d-e) in a manner that might suggest a common cause, a view that I’m inclined to accept.
George H. Cooper (1859-1943) was an American writer who produced two books in which he claimed that ancient Britain was the starting place of civilisation. In the first, Ancient Britain: The Cradle of Civilisation, among a number of daring claims he proposes that the Garden of Eden had been situated on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire near Stonehenge.
This book covers a range of subjects; ancient Britain, prehistoric America, Atlantis, ancient calendars etc. Cooper also produced a couple of volumes devoted to ancient mathematics.
His second offering, The Druid Bible appears to be just a reworking of much of the material in the first, once again promoting the theme of Britain as the source of civilisation, but venturing further with a discussion of the Trojan War, Mexico and Easter Island.
He also refers to Ireland, claiming that “in fact, in Plato’s story, there are geographical descriptions which will correspond to the physical features of Ireland; so well indeed, that it is impossible to disconnect that island from the scheme.” He goes further and specifies Cork harbour as the most likely candidate as the harbour of Atlantis, although he confesses that this idea “fits Plato’s narrative very well if we leave out the geometric circles, etc.”
Britain as the home of Atlantis has been claimed by many writers and not without undertones of nationalism by some of the British authors. Nevertheless, support for the idea has been offered by a number of the more disinterested researchers. Probably the first to advance this idea was John Wallis in 1700, who proposed that the Atlantis story had been corrupted over time and was a reference to the destruction of the landbridge that had existed between France and England, leaving a British Atlantis more isolated (The original Brexit!). It was nearly a century later that the idea was taken up by Thomas Pennant. More than another century passed before Cooper, Spence, Beaumont and Calestani produced related theories. Fast forward to the 21st century, when Donald Ingram identifies the Wessex II culture as Atlantean and Melville Nicholls considers Britain to be one of the Atlantean islands referred to by Plato.
The precise location, the exact date and the probable cause of the destruction of Atlantis are the basis for a range of theories. There is general acceptance that following the deglaciation at the end of the last Ice Age vast regions of low-lying land that had linked Ireland and Britain to mainland Europe were gradually flooded.
One school of thought is that these flooded regions contained Atlantis, of which the most extensive was in the North Sea and is now known as Doggerland. Other offshore locations proposed for Atlantis are the Celtic Shelf (Gidon, Steuerwald & Koudroiavtsev) and the Irish Sea (Dunbavin). These lands had been settled and following the inundations its inhabitants forced to retreat to the higher ground of what is modern Europe and the British Isles.
>David L. Hildebrandt in Atlantis-The Reawakening  proposes a reworking of the ‘Atlantis in Britain’ theory with some new perspectives. For me, his dating, location and identity of the Atlanteans does not ring true, particularly why Stone Age people in Southern Britain would want to launch an attack on Athens, over 2,000 miles away, a city-state which did not even exist at the time. Those early Britons did not have the wheel, yet Plato tells us that the Atlanteans had chariots!<
E. J. de Meester on his now defunct website postulated a link between Stonehenge and Atlantis(b). After arbitrarily dividing Plato’s dimensions by ten, he suggested that the plain described by Plato lay in a rectangle between Salisbury and Chichester.
The Pillars of Heracles is the name given by Plato to describe a maritime boundary marker of the ancient Greek world. According to his text, Atlantis lay just beyond or just before this boundary. However, strictly speaking, Plato does not call them ‘pillars’ but refers to them as stelai (pronounced “stee-lie”) and its singular Stele (pronounced “stee-lee”) which are the Greek words for stone slabs used as boundary or commemorative markers, not a reference to supportive columns. Rhys Carpenter favours the idea that the term when applied to the Strait of Gibraltar was used with the sense of boundary markers, indicating ”the limits of the Inner Sea that, for the Greeks, was the navigable world.”[221.156]
According to Aristotle, the Pillars of Heracles were also known by the earlier name of ‘Pillars of Briareus’. Plutarch places Briareus near Ogygia, from which we can assume that the Pillars of Heracles are close to Ogygia. Since Malta has been identified as Ogygia, it was not unreasonable, to conclude, as some do, that the Pillars were probably in the region of the Maltese Islands.
However, Ogygia has also been identified with one of the Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic by Felice Vinci[019.3], who then proposed that the Pillars of Heracles had also been located in that archipelago. John Larsen has made similar suggestions.
Furthermore, Aristotle also wrote that “outside the pillars of Heracles the sea is shallow owing to the mud, but calm, for it lies in a hollow.” This is not a description of the Atlantic that we know, which is not shallow, calm or lying in a hollow and which he refers to as a sea not an ocean.
Classical writers frequently refer to the Pillars without being in anyway specific regarding their location. Rosario Vieni has suggested that the Symplegades, at the Bosporus, encountered by Homer’s Argonauts were precursors of the Pillars of Heracles, although Vieni settled on the Strait of Sicily as their location, before Sergio Frau adopted the same location.
However, there is little doubt that during the last centuries BC ‘the Pillars’ referred almost exclusively to the Strait of Gibraltar. The online encyclopaedia Wikipedia notes that Pillars were, in earlier times, identified with the Strait of Sicily, but from the time of Erastosthenes (c. 250 BC) the term was used to refer to the Strait of Gibraltar, reflecting the expansion of Greek maritime knowledge.
I consider it highly relevant that no writer prior to Eratosthenes had referred to the Pillars of Heracles being located at Gibraltar. It is not unreasonable to conclude that this silence reflects the lack of knowledge possessed by the ancient Greeks regarding the western Mediterranean, which only improved gradually, as their colonising and trading expanded westward.
Alessio Toscano has suggested that the Pillars were situated at the Strait of Otranto and that Plato’s ‘Atlantic’ was in fact the Adriatic Sea. A more distant location was proposed by Chechelnitsky who placed the ‘Pillars’ at the Bering Strait between the Chukchi and Seward peninsulas in Russia and the USA respectively.
It always seemed to me that when the Greeks began their expansion westward, they did so hugging the northern shores of the Mediterranean. Understandably, they would have taken the shortest route from the Greek mainland to the heel of Italy and later on to Sicily. As they progressed with their colonisation, new limits were set, and in time, exceeded. I suggest that these limits were each in turn designated the ‘Pillars of Heracles’ as they expanded further. I speculate that Capo Colonna (Cape of the Column) in Calabria may have been one of those boundaries. Interestingly, 18th century maps shown up to five islands near the cape that are no longer visible(g), suggesting the possibility that in ancient times they could have been even more extensive, creating a strait that might have matched Plato’s description. On the other hand, the Strait of Messina was one of the locations recorded as the site of the ‘Pillars’ and considering that mariners at that time preferred to stay close to the coast, I would opt for the Strait of Messina rather than the more frequently proposed Strait of Sicily.
An extensive collection of classical references to the ‘Pillars’ is to be found on the Internet(j).
However, the poet Pindar in the Third Nemean Ode would appear to have treated the Pillars as a metaphor for the limit of established Greek geographical knowledge (Olympian 3.43-45), a boundary that was never static. In 1778, Jean-Silvain Bailly was certain that the Pillars of Hercules were just “a name that denotes limits or boundaries.” [926.v2/293]
Dag Øistein Endsjø, a Norweigan professor, has added the use of the ‘Pillars’ as a metaphor to include the limits of human endeavour(d) and quotes the classicist, James S. Romm in support(e). My own view is that where the term may have initially referred to physical pillars, over time a metaphorical usage became the norm.
Paulino Zamarro has mapped 13 locations(f) identified as the ‘Pillars’ by classical authors (see map below) and expands on this further in his book. He identified Pori, a rocky islet north of the Greek island of Antikythera, as the location of the Pillars of Herakles.
The Pillars are assumed by some to refer to the Rock of Gibraltar in Europe and to Mt. Acha or Jebel Musain, which are near Ceuta in Morocco. Others prefer to accept them as a physical pair of pillars set up outside a temple.
The idea that geographical terms can radically change their location over time is illustrated by the name (H)esperia, which means ‘evening land’ or as we might say ‘land of the setting sun’, was originally used by Greeks to indicate Italy and later employed by Roman writers as a designation for Spain. It could be argued that the Greek use of this appellation could be an indication that when introduced they were not too sure what lay beyond Italy.
Herodotus (Hist. Bk II.44) refers to Heracles as a god of the Egyptians ‘from time immemorial’. He also visited a temple of Heracles in Tyre with two pillars, one of gold and the other emerald. According to the priests there it had stood for two thousand three hundred years or from approximately 2700 BC.
Heracles is clearly the Greek counterpart of the Phoenician god Melqart, who was the principal god of the Phoenician city of Tyre. Melqart was brought to the most successful Tyrian colony, Carthage and subsequently further west, where at least three temples dedicated to Melqart have been identified in ancient Spain, Gades, Ebusus, and Carthago Nova. Across the Strait in Morocco, the ancient Phoenician city of Lixus also has a temple to Melqart.
Gades (Cadiz) was originally named Gadir (walled city). It has been generally accepted that it was founded around 1100 BC, although hard evidence does not prove a date earlier than the 9th century BC. It is today regarded as the most ancient functioning city in Western Europe.
Pairs of free standing columns were apparently important in Phoenician temples and are also to be found in Egyptian temples as well as being part of Solomon’s temple (built by Phoenician craftsmen). Consequently the pillars of Melqart temple in Gades are considered by some to be the origin of the reference to the Pillars of Melqart and later of Heracles (by the Greeks) and Hercules (by the Romans) as applied to the Strait of Gibraltar.
Spanuth dismisses those who have identified the red and white cliffs of Heligoland as the Pillars of Heracles, decrying the idea as a fallacy. He explains that “Natural rock formations were not what was originally meant by the Pillars of Heracles. Those at the Straits of Gibraltar were not, as one so often reads, the rocks to the north and south of the Straits, but two man-made pillars which stood before the temple of Heracles at Gades (present-day Cádiz) about 100 km north of the Straits.”
The Pillars of Heracles usually play a critical part in the construction of any theory relating to the location of Atlantis. Even the authors of theories that have placed Plato’s island civilisation in such diverse locations as Antarctica, the North Sea or the South China Sea, have felt obliged to include an explanation for the ’Pillars’ within the framework of their particular hypothesis.
There is one location clue in Plato’s text (Tim.24e) that is often overlooked, namely, that the island of Atlantis was situated close to the Pillars of Heracles. Although it can be argued that Plato’s island was immediately before or after the Pillars, the text clearly implies proximity. This was pointed out by W.K.C. Guthrie in volume 5 of A History of Greek Philosophy [946.245] and independently endorsed by Joseph Warren Wells in The Book on Atlantis.
A number of alternative locations have been identified as being referred to in ancient times as the Pillars of Heracles. Robert Schoch writes “This distinctive name, taken from the most powerful hero of Greek mythology, was given to a number of ancient sites known in modern times by quite different appellations”. The Greeks, however, used the name Pillars of Heracles to mark other sites besides Gibraltar, some outside the Mediterranean – namely, the Canary Islands in the Atlantic and the Strait of Kerch dividing the Black Sea from the Sea of Azov – and even more inside – specifically, the Strait of Bonafaccio between Corsica and Sardinia, the Strait of Messina between mainland Italy and Sicily, the Greek Peleponnese, the mountainous coast of Tunisia, and the Nile Delta.
Arguably the most unusual suggestion this year has come fro Marco Goti in his book, The Island of Plato in which he identified the ‘Pillars’ in the Atlantic, being the basalt columns of the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland in the west and their counterpart in Scotland’s Isle of Staffa in the east! However, this idea is not original, having been first mooted nearly seventy years ago by W.C. Beaumont(n).
Perhaps the first ‘modern’ writer to propose the eastern Mediterranean as the location for the ‘Pillars’ was Russian, Avraam Norov. He considered them to have been shrines drawing on both Greek and Arabic sources for his ideas.
G. Galanopoulos and E. Bacon suggest that the Pillars of Heracles were possibly associated with Melos, one of the Cyclades or Cape Maléa, the eastern promontory of the Gulf of Laconia. Both James Mavor and Rodney Castleden defend this view, which continues to have some support(p).?
Tacitus, the renowned Latin historian, in chapter 34 of Germania, clearly states that it was believed that the Pillars of Hercules were located near the Rhine in the territory of the Frisians.
Olof Rudbeck opted for a location further east in the Baltic at the Øresund strait between Sweden and Denmark.
Strabo, the Greek historian and geographer, records that Alexander the Great built an altar and ‘Pillars of Heracles’ at the eastern limit of his Empire. Pliny the Elder noted that in Sogdiana in modern Uzbekistan there was reputed to be an altar and ‘Pillars of Heracles’. Aristotle in de Mundo describes the north coast of Europe on the edge of a vast sea, beyond the Celts and the Scythians up to Sinus Gallicus and the Pillars of Heracles!
Ulrich Hofmann combines the Periplus of Pseudo-Scylax with the writings of Herodotus to build a credible argument for placing Atlantis in North Africa in Lake Tritonis, now occupied by the Chotts of modern Algeria and Tunisia. Consequently, Hoffmann places the Pillars at the Gulf of Gabés, which would put Malta to the east of them. He also argues that the Pillars were part of Atlantis rather than separate from it.
George Sarantitis presented a paper to the 2008 Atlantis Conference in which he also argued that the Pillars had been situated in the Gulf of Gabes[750.403]. He cites Strabo among others to highlight the multiplicity of locations that have been attributed to Pillars in ancient times.
Scylax of Caryanda describes(a) in his Periplus, a guide to the Mediterranean, the Maltese Islands as lying to the east of the Pillars of Heracles. The opinions of Hofmann and Sarantitis would certainly support this view.
Anton Mifsud argues that had the Pillars been located at Gibraltar the islands to the east would have been the Balearics. Mifsud also points out that the 1st century BC writer, Apollonius Rhodius, located the Strait of Heracles in ancient Syrtis Minor, now the Gulf of Gabés. Delisle de Sales placed the ‘Pillars’ not too far away at the Gulf of Tunis, the gateway to Carthage. Mifsud has now revised his opinion and in a December 2017 illustrated article(o) has identified the Maltese promontory of Ras ir-Raheb near Rabat, with its two enormous limestone columns as the Pillars of Herakles. This headland had originally been topped by a Temple of Herakles, confirmed by archaeologist, Professor Nicholas Vella.
Sergio Frau, in his recent book, published in Italy, insists that the Pillars were in fact located in the Strait of Sicily. He sees this location as according with the writings of Homer and Hesiod. He discusses in detail the reference by Herodotus to an island to the west of the Pillars, suggesting that the world ‘ocean’ had a different meaning than today and pointing out that elsewhere Herodotus refers to Sardinia as the largest island in the world. Following this lead Frau concluded that Atlantis was in fact located in Sardinia. Frau commented that Eratosthenes, circa 200 BC, was the first geographer to place the Pillars of Heracles at Gibraltar. He also quotes the earlier geographer Dicaearchus whose comments appear to also support a location near Malta. Antonio Usai , in his critique of Frau’s book has opted for the Pillars having been between the coast of Tunisia and the islands of Kerkennah.
It should be noted that many of the other known ‘Pillars of Heracles’ existed in the Eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea. This is possibly because until the middle of the 1st millennium BC the Greeks were, generally speaking, restricted to this region. It would appear that for the ancient Greeks, the Pillars of Heracles marked straits or promontories at the limits of their known world. These boundaries were extended further and further as their maritime capabilities improved. In the Late Bronze Age the Bosporus in the east and probably the Strait of Sicily in the west confined the Greeks. It was only shortly before Solon’s trip to Egypt that the Greek colony of Massilia (modern Marseilles) was founded and so, at last, the western limit of the Mediterranean was brought within the reach of Greek ships. Obviously as their range extended so too did the location of new Pillars and possibly led to the decline in the usage of the title at former boundaries, leaving us today with only the Strait of Gibraltar to carry the name.
Even Nikolai Zhirov, a proponent of an Atlantic Atlantis, accepted that they were other locations considered to have been designated Pillars of Herakles, both within and beyond Gibraltar, as shown on a map of half a century ago in his well-regarded book [458.86].
Nevertheless, Thorwald C. Franke maintains that the westward shift of the ‘Pillars’ to Gibraltar occurred hundreds of years before Solon. He expanded on this at the 2008 Atlantis Conference and in his 2006 book on Herodotus.
Even Arthur C. Clarke suggested that there was evidence that the early Greeks did not originally refer to the Strait of Gibraltar as the Pillars of Heracles. Clarke did not cite his sources, but expressed a personal preference for the Strait of Messina.
Fundamentalist Atlantology, as proclaimed by the ‘prophet’ Donnelly in the 19th century, will accept no explanation other than that Plato was referring to ‘Pillars’ near Gibraltar. Certainly, it is perfectly clear that Plato MAY have been referring to the Strait of Gibraltar, but it is also clear that this was not the only location with that designation in ancient times. Consequently, if any of the alternatives mentioned above enable the construction of a new credible Atlantis location hypothesis, then it deserves careful rational consideration.
In 1913, Nicolae Densusianu proposed a location for the Pillars on the Danube, in ancient Dacia, modern Romania. Ranko Jakovljevic has recently expressed the view that the nearby Iron Gates section of the Danube in Serbia was the location of Atlantis. A paper presented to the 2008 Atlantis Conference by Ticleanu, Constantin & Nicolescu[750.375] has the ‘Pillars’ at the Iron Gates but place Atlantis a little further west on what is now the Pannonian Plain.
The late Arysio dos Santos claims claimed that “there was only one real pair of pillars: the ones that flank Sunda Strait in Indonesia”, in keeping with his Indonesian location for Atlantis. However, he does list (p.130) nine sites designated by ancient authorities as having been locations of ‘Pillars’, reinforcing the idea that the term was not exclusively applied to just one site.
Even more exotic locations such as Chott-el-Djerid in Tunisia, Bab-el-Mandeb(b) at the mouth of the Red Sea, the Strait of Hormuz(i) at the entrance to the Persian Gulf and even the Palk Strait between Sri Lanka and India have all been suggested at some stage as the ‘Pillars’.
George H. Cooper offered an even more outrageous solution when he wrote that Stonehenge in England were the original Pillars of Heracles. In 2018, David L. Hildebrandt published Atlantis – The Awakening , in which he has endeavoured to do just that with a mass of material that he claims supports the idea of Atlantis in Britain and Stonehenge as the remnants of the Temple of Poseidon. He suggests that the the five trilithons represent the five sets of male twins, an idea voiced by Jürgen Spanuth and more recently by Dieter Braasch.
Sometimes, in ancient Greek literature, this phrase refers to the strait between Sicily and the southern tip of Italy (a place which the Greeks did know well, having established colonies in Sicily and southern Italy). An indication of the level of confusion that existed in early geography and cartography is the fact that some ancient maps & texts mark the Mediterranean region west of the Strait of Sicily as “the Atlantic Ocean” and even state that Tyrrhenia is in the ‘Atlantic’!
Finally, my own conclusion regarding the location of the ‘Pillars’ referred to by Plato/Solon, is that a careful reading of Plato’s text shows clearly that they were located in the Central or Western Mediterranean. I base this view on (i) Critias 108 which states that the Atlantean war was between those that lived outside the Pillars of Heracles and those that lived within them and (ii) Critias 114 which declares that Atlantis held sway over the Western Mediterranean as far as Tyrrhenia in the north and up to the borders of Egypt in the south. Consequently, we can assume that west of Tyrrhenia and of Egypt were beyond the Pillars of Heracles. Depending on the exact location of the ancient borders of Tyrrhenia and Egypt, the Pillars could have been situated between Malta and Crete. This interpretation opens up the possibility of Malta, Sicily or Sardinia as prime candidates for the location of Atlantis, my preference being at the Strait of Messina between Sicily and mainland Italy.>My principal reason being that a strait is defined as “a naturally formed, narrow, typically navigable waterway that connects two larger bodies of water.” The Strait of Sicily is 145 km wide and cannot be realistically considered a strait. On the other hand the Strait of Messina, which at its narrowest is 3.1 km wide, fits the bill perfectly. Andis Kaulins is similarly inclined to favour the Central Mediterranean, also with the Strait of Messina as his prime candidate(q).<
Plato’s comments make little sense, if he was describing an attack by people outside the Pillars located at Gibraltar on those inside the Pillars, since at least half of the coastal territory, in both Europe and Africa, east of Gibraltar was already conquered. However, if the Pillars were located somewhere much further east, his comments make greater sense.
The Schoppes, in support of their Black Sea location for Atlantis, maintain that the Pillars were situated at the Bosporus and not Gibraltar. They contend “the maintained misinterpretation results from the fact that Herakles went to Iberia. At late Hellenistic and at Roman times Iberia was Spain. However, this leads to inconsistencies: After putting up the Pillars (supposed to be Gibraltar) Herakles put together a fleet to go to Iberia, he was still there!” The Schoppes point out that in the distant past ‘Iberia related to the land of an ethnic group to the east of the Black Sea.
Luana Monte, a supporter of the Minoan Hypothesis has also proposed a location at the mouth of the Nile Delta where the recently rediscovered sunken city of Herakleoin was situated. This identification appears to have been made in order to keep the Minoan Empire west of the ‘Pillars’.
Even more bizarre is the suggestion(c) that the ‘Pillars’ were in fact two bright stars in the western sky at the end of the last Age of Libra around 12,500 BC.
What is clear from all of the above is that the term Pillars of Heracles was, without doubt, applied to a variety of locations but Plato’s reference MIGHT relate to Gibraltar although equally strong if not stronger cases can be made for other sites at earlier dates. It is also plausible that at some point it also became a metaphor for any geographical limit.
Neville Chipulina, a Gibraltarian, has an interesting article(m) on the ‘history’ of the Pillars of Hercules and its association with Gibraltar.
Apart from any connection with Atlantis, it has been suggested that the vertical lines in the US dollar $ign represent the Pillars of Heracles!(l)
(d) https://www.gunnzone.org/constructs/endsjo.htm (Link broken 2019)
Ireland according to James Bramwell [0195.181], was first identified with Atlantis as early as circa 1250 AD in the Speculum Regale (The King’s Mirror)(g) which was written in Norway. Apart from that, Ireland was less controversially was first suggested in the 18th century as a possible location of Atlantis by the English geologist John Whitehurst. The idea lay dormant for over a century until the early part of the 20th century when George H. Cooper  suggested that Cork harbour fits Plato’s description of the harbour of Atlantis. Fifty years later an official guidebook claimed that one of the outposts of Atlantis was to be found on the west coast of Galway. As a nation famed for its storytelling we have never let truth stand in the way of a good tale.
The mythical Hy-Brasil was shown west of Ireland on maps as early as 1325 and incredibly, was not removed from naval charts until 1865. The UK’s Daily Star (21/5/16) with typical tabloid accuracy told its readers(f) that Hy-Brasil was off the coast of ‘Britain’!
In 1976, Steiner Books, New York, republished a book under the misleading title of Atlantis in Ireland. One may be excused for viewing this as a blatant case of exploitative opportunistic publishing. The original text was written by Henry O’Brien and published in London (1834) as The Round Towers of Ireland. Apart from being written in the rather turgid English of the period, there is not a single reference to Plato or Atlantis to be found in that volume.
Diodorus Siculus, in a well-known passage (Bk 1.158), that is claimed by some as a reference to Ireland(h), describes it as ”an island in the ocean over against Gaul, to the north, and not inferior in size to Sicily, the soil of which is so fruitful that they mow there twice in the year.” Some consider this to be reminiscent of the Platonic reference to the two crops a year gathered in Atlantis. However, I am more inclined to think that Diodorus was referring to Britain. Diodorus also mentions the Irish singular temples of ’round form’, however, this seems too early to be a reference to the round towers and more likely to be an allusion to the astronomically aligned mounds such as Newgrange, Dowth and Knowth in Ireland or Stonehenge in Britain!
Bob Quinn has written and lectured on possible ancient cultural links between North Africa and Ireland. This idea may have been reinforced by a number of 19th century reports that visitors from North Africa were able to understand the Irish language!(i)
In 1923, Conor MacDari, who’s eccentricity was comparable with that of Comyns Beaumont, published Irish Wisdom Preserved in the Bible and Pyramids , which among a litany of bizarre claims, proposed that Atlantis had been located in Ireland.
When Ignatius Donnelly came to the subject of Ireland, he attributed an Atlantean origin to so the various waves of settlers that came to the post-glacial island. He substitutes evidence with assertion and speculation. Donnelly further claimed that the famous round towers of Ireland are proof that the people of Atlantis settled in Ireland.
More recently Ulf Erlingsson, a Swedish geographer, insisted that with a claimed probability
factor of 99.98%, that his interpretation of Plato’s text demonstrates that Ireland was home to Atlantis . The subtitle of the book, Mapping the Fairy Land, is probably a good guide on how seriously to take this book, particularly as it is by an author who hails from the land of the original Trolls.
In March 2008, it was reported that a Dr. Jac Hummer had mounted an expedition to South America with the intention of discovering the remains of St. Patrick under a pyramid there. But it gets better – he then explains that such a discovery will prove his theory that Ireland is Plato’s lost island of Atlantis!I can only conclude that this is a hoax story.
Irish legend speaks of the Domnu, people of the deep sea from a land that disappeared beneath the waves. However, Ireland is still above the waves and in contrast to Plato’s statement that even in his time the location of Atlantis was marked by impassable shallows. Since sea levels have generally risen only slightly since Plato lived, he cannot have been referring to Ireland.
John Douglas Singer in his slender book, Ireland’s Mysterious Lands and Sunken Cities , has carried out an investigation into the ancient legends of Ireland and their possible connection with Plato’s Atlantis. He points out that Ireland has the greatest number of legends relating to sunken cities and islands! He draws on the works of Egerton Sykes and Lewis Spence among others.
Ireland was also nominated by Thomas Dietrich as an early colony of Atlantis in The Origin of Culture.
Somewhat incongruously, the website of extremist, Dejan Lucic, has an extensive and fully referenced article entitled The Irish Origins of Civilisation(a), including not a few controversial sources such as, Comyns Beaumont, Ralph Ellis and John Gordon.
Around 2010, a father and son team Francis J.Ward & Francis P.Ward seeminglly published their first book The Truth Against the World-Red Phoenix Rising & the Return of the Thunder Gods , in which they express the view that “Atlantis was a global, maritime empire based in Ireland”.(c)
In 2013, Skender Hushi informed the world that Albanian had been the original language of Ireland and Atlantis! Another equally odd claim came from Zoltán Simon who proposed that the ancient Hun Calendar came from Ireland [0549.147]!
Evidence for the earliest humans in Ireland is now dated as 10,500 BC.(d)(e)
In July 2020, Erlingsson’s Atlantis in Ireland theory was recycled by a website(j) with the title of ‘Keystone University’. It promises to build a world-class enterprise centre in Ireland in 2025. The site implies that Keystone has the support of Brian Tracy, an American self-development speaker. While Keystone seems to focus on business success and personal development, it incongruously includes a study of Atlantis a la Erlingsson as part of its course! It has published two papers on the Ancient Origins website(k)(l).
>The Atlantis claims of Keystone were found earlier in January on YouTube and while it ostensibly appeared to add the gravitas of an educational institution to the subject of Atlantis, it was only a smokescreen for an attempt to intice people to sign up for overpriced seminars. Jason Colavito drew attention(m) to this at the time and to the more recent articles on Ancient Origins(n).<
The Identity of the Atlanteans has produced a range of speculative suggestions nearly as extensive as that of the proposed locations for Plato’s lost island. However, it is highly probable that we already know who the Atlanteans were, but under a different name.
The list below includes some of the more popular suggestions and as such is not necessarily exhaustive. While researchers have proposed particular locations for Atlantis, not all have identified an archaeologically identified culture to go with their chosen location. The problem being that most of the places suggested have endured successive invasions over the millennia by different peoples.
It would seem therefore that the most fruitful approach to solving the problem of identifying the Atlanteans would be to first focus on trying to determine the date of the demise of Atlantis. This should reduce the number of possible candidates, making it easier to identify the Atlanteans.
A final point to consider, is that the historical Atlanteans were a military alliance, and as such may have included more than one or none of those listed here. The mythological Atlanteans, who included the five sets of male twins and their successors would be expected to share a common culture, wheras military coalitions are frequently more disparate.
Basques: William Lewy d’Abartiague, Edward Taylor Fletcher
Maltese: Anton Mifsud, Francis Xavier Aloisio, Kevin Falzon, Bibischok, Joseph Bosco, David Calvert-Orange, Giorgio Grongnet de Vasse, Albert Nikas, Joseph S. Ellul, Francis Galea, Tammam Kisrawi, Charles Savona-Ventura, Hubert Zeitlmair.
Maya: Robert B. Stacy-Judd, Charles Gates Dawes, Colin Wilson, Adrian Gilbert, L. M. Hosea, Augustus le Plongeon, Teobert Maler, Joachim Rittstieg, Lewis Spence, Edward Herbert Thompson, Jean-Frédérick de Waldeck,
Minoans: K.T. Frost, James Baikie, Walter Leaf, Edwin Balch, Donald A. Mackenzie, Ralph Magoffin, Spyridon Marinatos, Georges Poisson, Wilhelm Brandenstein, A. Galanopoulos, J. G. Bennett, Rhys Carpenter, P.B.S. Andrews, Edward Bacon, Willy Ley, J.V. Luce, James W. Mavor, Henry M. Eichner, Prince Michael of Greece, Nicholas Platon, N.W. Tschoegl, Richard Mooney, Rupert Furneaux, Martin Ebon, Francis Hitching, Charles Pellegrino, Rodney Castleden, Graham Phillips, Jacques Lebeau, Luana Monte, Fredrik Bruins, Gavin Menzies, Lee R. Kerr, Daniel P. Buckley.